Restoring “When a Man Has Been a Naughty Baronet” to the Act II Finale of Ruddigore may be the most common revision to a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta.
Ruddigore held the unenviable position of being the operetta that followed immediately after The Mikado. It’s hard to imagine that any operetta would have fared well in the shadow of that extraordinarily successful production. In fact, as is frequently noted, there were “boos” heard in the audience at Ruddigore’s Opening Night.
That negative reception was, however, quite unfair. Ruddigore is a wonderful operetta, with beautiful music and delightfully funny dialogue. The damage, however, was done. Gilbert decided to revise the work substantially, including even altering the operetta’s title, from the offensive Ruddygore, to its current title (Some Victorians thought the word looked a bit too much like “bloody” … a very naughty word indeed!).
Ruddigore continued to be revised in the years that followed. In the 1920s, the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company trimmed the Act II Finale by cutting “When a Man Has Been a Naughty Baronet.” Some librettos still include this cut.
In the 1970s, however, the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company restored the song. Today, most librettos offer both options, making it possible for a company to chose to perform both “When a Man Has Been a Naughty Baronet” followed by “Oh, Happy the Lily” or only the latter song.
When a man has been a naughty baronet,
And expresses deep repentance and regret,
You should help him, if you’re able,
Like the mousie in the fable,
That’s the teaching of my Book of Etiquette.
That’s the teaching in her Book of Etiquette.
If you ask me why I do not pipe my eye,
Like an honest British sailor, I reply,
That with Zorah for my missis,
There’ll be bread and cheese and kisses,
Which is just the sort of ration I enjye!
Which is just the sort of ration you enjye!
Having been a wicked baronet a week
Once again a modest livelihood I seek.
Is to me a keen enjoyment,
For I’m naturally diffident and meek!
Sir Despard and Mad Margarat
Prompted by a keen desire to evoke
All the blessed calm of matrimony’s yoke,
We shall toddle off tomorrow,
From this scene of sin and sorrow,
For to settle in the town of Basingstoke!
Prompted by a keen desire to evoke, etc.
“When a Man Has Been a Naughty Baronet” was sung in our 2009 production of Ruddigore by Megan Flod as Rose Maybud, Jim Ahrens as Richard Dauntless, Keith Carl as Robin, Waldyn Benbenek as Sir Despard and Lara Trujillo as Mad Margaret.
In our 1995 production of Ruddigore, “When a Man Has Been a Naughty Baronet” was sung by Mary Gregory as Rose Maybud, Mikal J. Kraklio as Richard Dauntless, Mather Dolph as Robin, Waldyn Benbenek as Sir Despard and Marta Burton as Mad Margaret.